When it comes to adding to your body, it's quite easy to gain 10 pounds in a month. But if your goal is to gain 10 pounds of muscle, you may want to rethink your timeline. Even if your nutrition and lifting are spot-on, packing on that much lean mass in such a short time is next to impossible.
How to Add Muscle Mass
Before you jump into a program to gain 10 pounds of muscle, it's important to define strength and hypertrophy. The American Council on Exercise (ACE) defines strength as the ability to accelerate a mass from a state of rest, such as lifting weights. Muscle hypertrophy, on the other hand, refers to the growth or increase in the size of a muscle.
The good news is one does not happen in isolation from the other. By focusing on hypertrophy, you can also gain strength. According to the National Strength Training and Conditioning Association (NSCA), the more muscle mass you have, the greater the potential for developing maximal strength.
With that in mind, determining exactly how much lean muscle you can gain in a month is a challenge. That's because several factors such as genetics, nutrition, overall health and training intensity all influence the amount of muscle you can gain.
That said, it's safe to say that you are not going to gain 10 pounds of muscle in a month. In fact, a small April 2016 study published in the International Journal of Exercise Science found that participants following an eight-week training plan for building lean mass and strength only gained, on average, 2.18 to 2.33 pounds of muscle.
Gain 10 Pounds of Muscle
Accepting that you're not going to gain 10 pounds in a month is the first step to packing on some solid mass. To set yourself up for success, you need to design a program that fits your fitness level. The NSCA recommends designing your resistance training workouts according to your fitness level.
Intermediate and advanced levels looking to gain muscle should consider training four to six days a week, but that means using a variety of methods including a split routine, which spreads four or more workouts evenly across the week; a double split routine; or a "three days on, one day off" split routine.
To build muscle mass, ACE recommends the following protocol:
- Three to six sets
- Six to 12 reps per set
- Train at an intensity of 70 to 80 percent of your 1RM
- Rest for 30 to 90 seconds between each set
- Choose from compound exercises such as squats, deadlifts, lunges, rows, chest press and lat pull-downs
Read more: The Best Way to Gain Lean Muscle Mass
Importance of Nutrition and Rest
In addition to training, you also need to factor in an adequate rest period after each workout to support muscle repair and growth. This helps encourage optimal muscle growth. In general, a muscle group requires 48 to 72 hours of rest before training it again.
Additionally, the amount of sleep and the quality of rest you get each night does play a role in how much muscle you can gain. According to the Mayo Clinic, the ideal amount of sleep each night is around seven to nine hours.
Consuming an adequate amount of calories to support the increase in training is a critical component for muscle hypertrophy. In other words, you need to eat to grow. Depending on your current weight and how much you want to gain, you can plan on eating an additional 300 to 500 calories each day in the form of complex carbohydrates, lean protein and healthy fats. Aim for three to four meals a day, including a pre- and post-workout snack.
While this program will not allow you to gain 10 pounds in a month, adhering to a specific training plan for several months and eating enough calories can help you gain 10 pounds of muscle.
- The National Strength and Conditioning Association: "Determination of Resistance Training Frequency"
- The International Journal of Exercise Science: "Increasing Lean Mass and Strength: A Comparison of High Frequency Strength Training to Lower Frequency Strength Training"
- The American Council on Exercise: "7 Different Types of Strengths and Their Benefits"
- The American Council on Exercise: "How Muscle Grows: How to Build Muscle Mass"
- The Mayo Clinic: "Sleep: The Foundation for Healthy Habits"
- American Council on Exercise: "Diet Tips for Gaining Weight"
- The National Strength and Conditioning Association: "Training Tips: Hypertrophy"